Sony’s plans for its next-generation console gaming are almost finalized, and the long-awaited PlayStation 5 is just on the horizon. Months of patent filings and leaks have kept gamers guessing as to what Sony has up its sleeve for its follow up to the PS4. But at long last, the company has given fans at a glimpse inside its playbook.
Mark Cerny, the lead system architect for the PS4, recently divulged a number of juicy PS5 details to Wired, including key hardware specs, details about an upcoming virtual reality feature, and even a possible release date. Cerny’s interview came less than a week after an epic batch of leaks — allegedly posted on Pastebin by an anonymous game developer — revealed many of the upcoming console’s inner-workings, many of which Cerny went on to confirm.
Game-changing graphical capabilities, refined and more immersive VR details, and a long-awaited hardware update are all reportedly part of Sony’s plans. But with the rise of cloud gaming services that have vowed to do away with expensive gaming hardware, the PS5 will need to pack a serious punch to take the industry by storm.
The company estimates that it sold 91.6 million units around the world as of December 31, 2018, with the PS4 accounting for nearly half of all consoles in use, according to a November 2018 Strategy Analytics report. It has clearly won the hearts of gamers, and the PS5 is anticipated to take the everything gamers love about Sony gaming to new heights. That vision could come to fruition very soon.
Plans for the PS5 have been veiled in secrecy until Cerny’s bombshell interview. Until recently, we knew only that the console was in the works, based on a statement made by Sony President, Kenichiro Yoshida in October.
“The PS4 is entering [the] final phase of its life cycle,” he said during a 2018 corporate meeting. That essentially confirms that Sony’s next-generation hardware is in the works. But when, exactly, should consumers expect to see it hit shelves?
Cerny’s comments, plus the Pastebin leaks, have fleshed out our picture of PS 5 a great deal. Here’s everything we know about Sony’s upcoming console, the PlayStation 5:
Play Station 5: Release Date
Cerny revealed that gamers shouldn’t expect the PS5 to launch in 2019, so 2020 will be the beginning of Sony’s next-gen push. One investment analyst believes the PS5 will be released in mid-to-late 2020.
But another analyst, Avi Greengart, research director for consumer devices at GlobalData previously told Inverse he expects to see Microsoft’s new Xbox at E3 2019 in June, with the PS5 not far behind.
“I’m expecting Microsoft to announce the new Xbox at E3 in 2019 but actually ship the console in 2020,” he said. “Microsoft could very well beat Sony to market in 2020 by launching the next Xbox in the Spring of 2020 rather than November, just ahead of the holidays.”
Other analysts envision a similar timeline. Hideki Yasuda, with the Ace Economic Research Institute, also believes the PS5 will launch in 2020. However, Yasuda thinks it’s the PS 5 that will beat the Xbox to market.
It is still too early to say for sure when the consoles will ship, but there’s a strong analyst consensus that the consoles will be begin being unveiled this Spring, with an official rollout coming about a year later in 2020.
These predictions were also backed up by a massive list of leaks posted on Pastebin in December that until recently flew under the radar. In the leak, someone claiming to be a game developer working on titles for the console said the PS 5 would either drop on March 2020 or November 2020, but that the date hasn’t been finalized yet.
Playstation 5: Price
Sony most likely won’t say a word about exactly the PS5 will cost until its launch date. But Peter Rubin, the senior correspondent for Wired who spoke to Cerny, excluded one juicy detail about the price in his piece.
Rubin tweeted a snipped of this transcript of Cerny saying that the future console won’t carry an astronomical price tag.
Cerny: I believe that we will be able to release it at an SRP [suggested retail price] that will be appealing to gamers in light of its advanced feature set.
Rubin: Meaning that it may cost a bit more but what you’re getting is well worth it?
Cerny: That’s about all I can say about it.
While the PS5 will definitely far exceed the capabilities of its predecessor, expect a price range between $399 and $499 assuming Sony continues to follow their previous pricing strategy. They have good reason to stay the course, as the pricing strategy around the PS4 remains wildly successful.
Sony announced that it has sold more than 91 million PS4 units worldwide since launch during its most recent earnings call.
That said, the new devices may still cost a bit more. The Pastebin leak suggests the PS5 will cost $499 at launch, $100 pricier than its predecessor. This pricing isn’t completely unprecedented, the 2006 PS3 came in two variants, 20GB and 60GB models, which retailed at $499 and $599 each.
Play Station 5: New Features
Two major features have emerged from the rumor mill so far: The PS5 will run vintage games and it will double down on virtual reality.
Intel about the PS5’s retro-features come to us thanks to a widely reported Japanese patent spotted by the tech blog Gear Nuke. It suggested that Sony’s upcoming console will be backwards compatible, allowing it to run games dating all the way back to the original PlayStation. This means users who have a stack of retro games could just pop in their old discs and bring back the nostalgia.
Sony might also use the PS5’s launch to accelerate its VR efforts, according to subscription news outlet SemiAccurate. The article states that the console will come with a VR-focused chipset making it a powerhouse for immersive gaming.
Play Station 5: Wireless VR Headset
In addition to a couple under-the-hood changes, the PS5 may also launch with a secret weapon: a wireless VR headset. One of its defining features is expected to be an optimized virtual-reality experience thanks to the aforementioned chipset. Sony could leverage that to update its PSVR line for the first time since 2016.
The Pastebin leaker mentioned that Sony is cooking up a wireless VR headset to succeed the current PSVR hardware. The leaker said it will cost an extra $250, support 2,560 x 1,440 resolution, 120Hz, provide a 220-degree field of view, eye-tracking, come with up to five hours of battery life, and include integrated headphones. There are also two patents backing up this description of the potential hardware.
The Japan Patent Office recently published a patenton March 14 that depicted a headset that players can use without having to attach it to their console. Instead, an attachment transfers data between the console and a TV-mounted PS Camera using high-frequency waves.
The current PSVR was released in October 2016, only a month before the PS4 Pro. That means the PS5’s eventual showcase could very well feature the wireless headset shown in that Japanese patent.
The PSVR headset might also be the first VR headset designed to specifically fit prescription glasses and make use of a new graphical rendering technique known as “foveated rendering.”
The United States Patent and Trademark Office published a Sony application patent on April 4 that seems to describe the method without actually mentioning it. The patent says the system will use eye-trackers to detect where a user is looking to fully render only what’s at the center of their vision, and decreases the resolution in their peripheral vision. This could improve the VR experience for all users by making it less intensive for consoles and computers to generate massive 3D worlds.
“Gaze tracking system of the glasses may be configured to transmit the signal representing the gaze tracking results to other computing devices (e.g., laptop computer, desktop computer, tablet computer, cellular phone device, etc.) instead of or in addition to the sensor of the HMD, using wireless communication,” states that patent.
It also mentions that all of that data could be transferred wirelessly from the console to the headset, which lines up with the Pastepin leak.
PS5: Reverse Compatibility With 2016 PSVR Hardware
Cerny didn’t Cerny didn’t confirm or deny the possibility of a new headset, but he did confirm that the current PSVR hardware will be compatible with the PS5.
“I won’t go into the details of our VR strategy today,” he said, “beyond saying that VR is very important to us and that the current PSVR headset is compatible with the new console.”
Reverse compatibility will make it so current PSVR owners won’t have to spend even more money to enjoy the refined VR capabilities of the PS5. While they won’t offer anywhere near the hardware sophistication as the the rumored wireless headphones have been said to, the old headset will at least let gamers enjoy new VR games on the console without an extra fee.
PS5: Improved Audio Quality
Graphics will of course be the PS5’s biggest priority, but Cerny noted that the company wants to give gamers an audio experience like no other console.
“As a gamer, it’s been a little bit of a frustration that audio did not change too much between PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4,” he said. “With the next console the dream is to show how dramatically different the audio experience can be when we apply significant amounts of hardware horsepower to it.”
A feature like this could take the form of extremely immersive VR experiences, where users can hear the rustling of trees or footsteps in the distance. The Pastebin leaks alleged that the rumored, wireless PSVR headset will come with integrated headphones, a leak which seems to align with Cerny’s statements about supporting better audio.
PS5: New DualShock 5 Controller
Just like every other PlayStation release, the PS5 will likely come with a new controller, which based on its predecessors’ numerically ordered names will be called the DualShock 5.
The leaks state it will come with “some sort of camera inside for VR.” It’s unclear what that means, but it could be used for motion tracking while users have the new PSVR headset on.
PS5: Confirmed Specs
Cerny dropped some other juicy details about what the PS5 will pack under-the-hood. For the most part, he confirmed many of the Pastebin leaks. But he also revealed a that the console will come with one long-awaited improvement: a solid-state drive (SSD) along with an undisclosed “system memory increase.”
Changing to SSD meals fewer loading screens and more play time. Vast, explorable worlds like the ones in Spider-Man and Red Dead Redemption 2 can be rendered in a fraction of the time. The only drawback is that SSDs are notably more expensive that HDDs, which could raise the overall cost of the console.
Cerny also confirmed both the graphical processing unit (GPU) and central processing unit (CPU) will be made by semiconductor giant AMD, like the Pastebin leaks asserted. Most notably, Cerny also said the GPU will support “ray tracing,” an emerging graphical rendering technique that will make standard and VR games look more lifelike than ever.
He also revealed the the PS5 will also support 8K resolution. Since 8K TVs are still eye-wateringly expensive, this might not be a hit feature off the bat. But seeing as the console life cycle last five to six years, this is likely a way for Sony to future-proof the PS5.
Finally, the upcoming console will get the usual CPU upgrade. Cerny confirmed that it will be based on on the third generation of AMD’s Ryzen line and contains eight cores of the company’s new 7-nanometer Zen 2 microarchitecture.
PS5: Unconfirmed Specs
Some leaked PS5 details remained unconfirmed by Cerny, but based on how how closely the Pastebin document mirrored his statements they could still hold weight.
The anonymous leaker stated that the PS5 will more than than double the PS4 Pro’s graphical capacity to 14 teraflops, meaning it can it can complete 14 trillion operations per second. Currently, the PS4 Pro’s graphical processing unit (GPU) is capable of 4.2 teraflops. This massive upgrade was backed up by one industry expert.
“Word on the street is that Sony and Microsoft are aiming to be more powerful than Stadia,” Kotaku news editor Jason Schreier tells Inverse. Schreier advises gamers to take this prediction with a grain of salt, since the companies have likely not finalized their upcoming consoles’ specs. He also commented that both companies “are aiming higher than that 10.7 teraflops” in a forum thread Wednesday.
Schreier is a trusted source for industry information and correctly leaked the Fallout 4 setting and game dialogue before the title was released. Only other two details from the Pastebin leaks remain unconfirmed:
- 24 GB GDDR6 RAM and 4 GB DDR4 for the operating system.
- 2TB of hard drive storage.
PS5: How Could It Compare to the Xbox “Scarlett”
That graphical capacity might fall short compared to what Microsoft’s Xbox “Scarlett” has up its sleeve. Both of Microsoft’s expected two models will reportedly leverage Microsoft’s upcoming xCloud streaming service to let gamers play any title — no downloads necessary — and take their favorite games beyond the console to their Android mobile phones and other devices.
Ben Arnold, the senior director of innovation and trends at the Consumer Technology Association, previously told Inverse that a mobile streaming service could appeal to more consumers than the PS5’s VR capabilities. That’s simply because VR has yet to be widely adapted.
“The timeline [for VR] is a little bit extended because we’re still up against the desire to have great content as a way to drive more hardware adoption, but the content can’t get funded until there’s more hardware,” he said. “As that gets figured out, all of this momentum in streaming, cloud, and subscription services will develop.”
Sony could face some stiff competition from Microsoft this time around.
PS5: New Games
Finally, the anonymous developer rattles off a list of upcoming games that will follow the release of the PS5. Sony offered a ton of exclusive games this year, like Spider-Man, God of War, and Detroit: Become Human. And it might just one-up itself with the PS5.
The most notable title mentioned was the 2020 release of Grand Theft Auto VI. The leak states that Sony is trying to bankroll Rockstar Games to make the game exclusive to the PS5 for the first month of its release. The timing makes sense, Rockstar hasn’t released a new installment to GTA in six years. But the game has never been a console exclusive, securing that deal with such a popular game franchise would be a colossal first step toward console dominance for Sony.
The leaks listed the following games as exclusive titles:
- Gran Turismo 7 in VR
- Players Unknown Battleground in 4K with PlayStation+
- Last of Us 2 remastered
- Ghost of Tsushima remaster
- Two or three other AAA Titles plus more PSVR games.
These are the other third-party games allegedly on the docket:
- Battlefield Bad Company 3
- A Harry Potter game
- An Assassin’s Creed game
- Horizon 2 with a 2021 release date.
Other titles that will likely be released include:
- Cyberpunk 2077
- Call of Duty PS5
- FIFA PS5
- PES PS5
- Final Fantasy VII remake
This could all be subject to change once the PS5 actually launches, but many of the specs listed corroborate other forecasts and predictions. It seems that Sony has quite the gaming arsenal planned for the next few years.